Racing the Hurricane
I lie awake in my bed at night, listening to the rain pounding on the roof. Hurricane Acara, first of the season, is coming in.
I am in my cousin's house in Shenkuu, where many hurricanes have hit before.
I shake these thoughts out of my head and focus on falling back to sleep.
As hard as I try, I can't get the sound of the rain splashing against the window, growing louder, then falling to a crescendo until it starts back up.
I am not aware when I fall back into the darkness of sleep.
"Hey, Elizabeth, want to go out to the park for lunch?" I look over at my cousin, a faerie Acara. She is once again peeking into her mirror, checking her powder-pink wings for any stains. A moment passes before she answers.
"Sure," she replies, brushing her buttery yellow fur.
She hands me the brush and I run it through my fluffy striped mane. I gaze at it, admiring its beauty. I had just become a Striped Cybunny this past year—it was my twelfth birthday present.
"So?" Elizabeth asks. "When are we going to the park?"
I snap back out from my memories and hand her the brush.
"Okay, um... Looks like the only thing that we can bring there are gooseberry jam sandwiches... Is that all right?" I ask.
Elizabeth wrinkles her nose at the sight of the green jam. "We've been having sandwiches forever, though!" she complains.
"I know," I say, trying to ignore Elizabeth's complaint. "Well, that's just going to be easiest. It's fine if you don't want to- that's what I'm taking."
Elizabeth reluctantly agrees.
I unscrew the jar of gooseberry jam and slather a heaping scoop on a slice of bread.
Elizabeth's sister, Rayne, an Island Gelert, finally looks up from her endless studying, only to comment on the size of my sandwich.
I only shrug and stuff it into a bag, which I placed in Elizabeth's Mootix backpack.
"Hey, Elizabeth, should we bring Razzberry?" I cast a look towards her pink kadoatie.
"No, she'll be safer here."
Soon, both of us are outside and riding to the community park.
"It's raining," Elizabeth comments.
"I know. But it's just left over from last night. It'll be nothing."
As we reach the park, the rain stops. We ride up the ramp and park our bikes on the soft dirt.
Lunch is short. We eat under the Meridell-themed play set.
Then it begins to rain.
"Let's go up on the play set," Elizabeth suggests. "You go up with our stuff and I get the bikes."
I first run down to throw away my drink that I finished.
"Get out the umbrellas," Elizabeth orders. I follow, taking the blue one out first. It doesn't open completely. Elizabeth takes it and tries to open it. It doesn't work. She takes out her orange one, which works well.
"Thanks for giving me the one that works," I say sarcastically.
"You're welcome," she returns before adding, "Well, this one's mine, anyway."
I finally get it open. We sit up there until Elizabeth says, "Someone's coming."
We stay quiet and casually hide our faces behind the umbrellas as an Ixi about the age of eight nears the park, walking her energetic warf.
"I think there's going to be a thunderstorm soon," I announce loudly to Elizabeth, hoping the girl will turn back.
"You think?" Elizabeth answers, equally loud. She giggles quietly.
"Yeah. We should really be turning back right now."
After a few seconds of silence Elizabeth says, "She's gone."
I stand up and look. Yes, the owner, a Faerie Ixi with gossamer-purple sings, is headed back.
By now the rain has stopped. We make our way down to our bikes and sit with our umbrellas covering the seats of our bikes and us at the same time.
As we talk, the rain goes on and off. Soon, it began to pour.
We watch as the rain slants at an angle almost horizontal.
"We should have gone five minutes ago," Elizabeth says.
She is right. I don't have anything to say. My feet are already getting soaked. Good thing I didn't wear tennis shoes as earlier planned. I move my position so that my knees touch the ground. It gets me wet, but it's better than aching muscles. My back is drenched.
I glance over to see that Elizabeth is clutching her bag tightly and watching the rain pound on the ground in front of her. I wonder what she is thinking.
"I think it's Hurricane Acara," I say. "Maybe it's the edge. The clouds are definitely connected."
As I watch a troubled expression cross over her face, I realize I haven't comforted Elizabeth at all.
The rain suddenly stops.
"Let's go... hurry!"
I hold the umbrella with my teeth and try to shove the kickstand back up. It doesn't work. Finally it gives in and I ride out into the grass.
Just as we reach the road, rain pours hard on our umbrellas. An oversized raindrop plops on my nose.
"Let's go back under the play set!"
Again, we wait, the rain pounding hard on our backs. I am soaked.
"We need to get home now," Elizabeth says firmly. "Get your umbrella. We're running back."
"Come on, if we ride back on our bikes it'll be more of an adventure!"
"So what? We have to get back right now! We'll just come back to get our bikes later!"
"They could get stolen!" I glance at the silver and blue bike that looked relatively new.
Elizabeth pauses to think.
"You're right," she admits, pursing her lips.
"Seriously, we can wait this out."
Elizabeth doesn't answer.
As she is thinking, the rain stops.
"Let's go, let's go!" I hastily shout.
We quickly roll our bikes out into the rain. Elizabeth lets me pass her.
I blaze straight through the grass and onto the street. I splash through an enormous puddle. Dirt and water drench my feet and bottom of my shorts. I pedal faster.
Rain begins to pour again.
Then I realize that Elizabeth isn't with me.
I glance over my shoulder. She's still far behind, at the park. Her bright orange jacket contrasts greatly with the stony grey of the Meridell play set.
"Elizabeth, are you all right?" I yell.
I can barely hear her through the rain. She shouts something, and I can see her pedaling behind me.
I figure that she will catch up later and cross the road without her. She soon catches up.
As we turn the corner, I finally see the fun of the whole situation.
"THIS IS AWESOME!" I scream. I don't care if anyone hears me. "THIS IS AMAZING!"
Winds sweeps against me and blows my umbrella back. I let go of one bike handle and hold the umbrella in place. It flips backward like a bowl.
"Your umbrella is flipped back! It looks so funny!" Elizabeth laughs. "Oh, no! Mine flipped, too!"
The wind abruptly switches directions and my hair catches on one of the metal hinges of the umbrella. Then it flips back around.
"Just turn your umbrella around," Elizabeth shouts, giggling.
"I can't! My hair is caught on it!" I scream as I aim my bike for another huge puddle. I don't even care that I'm getting wet. I mean, how many times is this going to come up in my life? I should live well with it!
As the rain picks up speed, Elizabeth and I scream and laugh on the way back to her house.
By the time we reach the door by the garage, we can't be more soaked.
I attempt to close up my umbrella, which takes quite a while. Finally we enter and lay the bike against the wall.
"That... was AMAZING!" we both exclaim.
Rayne looks up from her studying, horrified at the sight of us, standing in the kitchen, dripping with water. She quickly sends us away with towels to dry off with.
Elizabeth and I chatter nonstop about our adventure.
"Best experience of my life!"
The next day, Elizabeth and I gaze out the window. A slight drizzle of rain falls over her sleepy neighborhood.
"Want to do it again?"
"Let's go for it!"